Five Questions That Will Make Market Research Work For You

By : Gina Boedeker

Before conducting market research, you should have an idea of what you want to know from your market. Sounds basic, doesn’t it? But I find this is an area where teams struggle, because either a) they aren’t sure what specifically they want to know or b) they want to know everything. No one survey, focus group or series of insight interviews can possibly answer every single question you have about your product or service. So, knowing exactly why you’re conducting your study is a critical first step.

Use the questions and sample responses (in italics) below to begin writing your research study plan. 

1. Why are you conducting this study? What do you want to learn?

We want to better understand why potential customers in our key market segment bought our competitors’ product instead of ours.

This is specific, it’s one sentence and it’s focused. It’s also high-level. This one question doesn’t list every single thing you want to know, just your overall reason for conducting the study. Every other question within your interview should tie into this overall objective.

2. What are some of the core topics you want to explore in this study?

Is our e-commerce site a barrier to purchase? How was our customer service experience? How would our target customers rate their interaction with our sales team?

These are specific topics you want to dig into, as you think they may impact why potential customers chose your competitors. These should always tie into your overall objective.  

3. What is the time frame for the study?

We want a survey to go out to all potential customers we lost immediately upon learning of the lost sale.

You may have an ongoing survey you send to a customer immediately upon losing a sale, or you may pull a list of customers lost within the last year from your CRM and send a survey to that list. Just know the time frame you’re targeting as it changes how you script your interview.

4. Who is your target audience?

We want to study why people within the 25-34 year old demographic purchased (a specific product).

Be specific here. Know whom, exactly, you want to hear from so you can script disqualification questions in your study to weed out those who are not your ideal respondent. 

5. How will you use this data?

The marketing and product teams will review this survey analysis to determine if changes are needed to the product, the way that product is marketed or both.

Is there a specific hypothesis you want the data to validate or invalidate? Perhaps you think your e-commerce site is a barrier for sales and you want the market to validate this. You’ll use that information to determine that changes are necessary; further, you may use branching for customers for whom the e-commerce site was an issue, and ask detailed questions about what changes would make it a more user-friendly experience. Knowing how you will use the data from your survey will help you stay focused on your main objectives.

Most companies recognize the need to get feedback from their market, but many struggle to determine their overall research goals and objectives, making their market studies less effective than they could be. Take the time to ask these questions at the outset so you can craft an interview script that gets you and your team the feedback you need to make strategic business decisions.

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